Secret Shame of a Pantser

pants hanging on clothesline

I confess. Until now I’ve been a pantser. Long after giving up the romantic notion of the writer who, possessed by inspiration, channels creativity from on high until the keyboard letters melt off in a blinding flash, I continue to start stories with no clear path to the finish line. For me, this is the first level of writing hell: plotting. Some think the first level is coming up with ideas worth fleshing out. That hasn’t been a problem for me. I’ll do well to finish the pile of plotlines I keep in my idea file. But having to diagram a story I haven’t written feels somewhat counterintuitive.

I suppose the last shred of romantic in me thinks a story worth writing will whisper in your ear like a siren, or a mother cooing lullabies to her newborn.

Type away writer.
Tell pretty lies.
You will be famous.
Once the ink dries.

Witness the results. I have one unfinished Nanowrimo novel, one unfinished screenplay, and I’ve recently started another novel. They all feel like they will be entertaining and commercially viable finished products. The intros and exposition for each nearly wrote themselves. Then one by one the characters began to scurry into dark recesses where plotlines faded like lane markings on an old highway.

So today I’ve made a decision. This aspiring writer has given up his pants… so to speak. Less plodding, more plotting. That’s my new mantra. You can come out now characters. I will write in shame no more.